Tampa Port Business Up, but . . .
The Tampa Tribune is reporting the container and cruise business at the port is up. That is encouraging news. Tampasphere is all for increased business at the port. In fact, we wish the port would be more aggressive in seeking out business and not so willing to determine that business is beyond our reach. It took far too long for the port to get into the container business, even after it was well known that, while the tonnage numbers for container cargo are smaller by the very nature of the business, container cargo is much higher in value than bulk cargo – the port’s specialty. Also note that, as the article makes clear, bulk cargo is not doing so well.
Moving forward, as the Panama Canal is expanded, in our opinion, the port is not ready to compete effectively. The channel is too shallow, and it appears that there are no plans to fix this. (In fact, in a powerpoint that has since been taken down the port pretty much said it was not going to try to get the canal dredged so that it could serve the biggest ships – hopefully this attitude has changed, though this Tribune article makes it doubtful.) The Skyway is too short (admittedly, this is a harder problem to solve).
The port is a great asset to Tampa and one of the area’s main economic engines and tools to take advantage of globalization. It is odd that, unlike the new administration at Tampa International, the port is not pushing to maximize its potential.